Despite being an important firearm accessory and an item of common knowledge, suppressors do not enjoy enough penetration among the general population. You would be surprised to know how a lot of people still think that suppressors or silencers are not for an average firearm owner and are made only for military or special operations personnel. Movies, media, and popular culture have made suppressors something that is only used either by the soldiers or by the assassins.
Regardless of how popular culture takes them, the reality is that the suppressors are just like any other NFA item, and you can own them just like you can own any NFA item. All you need is to buy a suppressor, pay for the tax stamp and submit your fingerprints along with an ATF Form 4 –the Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm. ATF Form 4 is filed by a qualified federal firearms licensee to transfer to an individual or other entity (non-licensee).
What is a suppressor and why you should get it?
A suppressor is a firearm accessory that is categorized as an NFA item and is regulated just like other NFA items. It can be an integral part of some firearms, however, generally, it is mounted to the muzzle as a detachable accessory with its female threaded end that attaches to male threads cut into the exterior of the barrel. A suppressor is used for reducing the sound and recoil of a gunshot. It also reduces the flash of light which can be a problem in low light conditions.
Difference between a silencer and a suppressor
Silencer or suppressor are the two different names used interchangeably to refer to the same firearm accessory. However, the suppressor is more accurate as this device does not actually make your firearm completely silent, but rather suppresses the sound made during the gunshot. You can call them “suppressors” or “silencers,” as they refer to the exact same thing.
Why should I get a suppressor?
First and foremost, a suppressor or silencer will reduce the sound of the gunshot to the level that it does not leave you with a ringing ear for hours. A suppressor (along with hearing protection gear) is an important accessory to prevent damage to your hearing. In some law enforcement or military operations, it is used to reduce the sound to stay undercover.
Another reason why you should consider buying a suppressor is the reduction in recoil made by a discharging firearm. Attaching a suppressor to your firearm considerably reduces the recoil, which improves stability while firing. Improved stability not only improves accuracy but also allows you to take faster follow-up shots.
Adding a suppressor also reduces the flash of light created by a gunshot, which, on some occasions (such as low light conditions or nighttime shooting) can be a problem.
The fastest way to get a suppressor
The fastest way to get a suppressor is all about picking the right options, processing formalities correctly, providing accurate data, and doing things the way they should be done. Getting a suppressor may look like a complex process at first, however, it is not as complex as it seems provided you provide accurate information and follow the process systematically.
First thing first, to get a suppressor you will need a firearm dealer with FFL (Federal Firearm License). Firearm dealers such as Silencer Shop are in this business for quite a while and they understand how to process silencer or other NFA item-related formalities in the fastest possible way. However, you, as a customer, also have the right to understand the process and the complex-sounding terms that it involves.
Register your ATF eForms account
To initiate your silencer purchase process, you will be working along the ATF eForm website to apply for a transfer with eForm 4. Go to https://eforms.atf.gov/ and register a new account by scrolling down and clicking the Register button. During the registration process, you will have the option of how you want to register. If you register as a trust or corporation, you can certify and submit your eForm remotely. As per the ATF, if you register as an individual applicant, you must certify in person at the dealer. Your FFL may also ask you to register an account on their website/app with the same email address and name, depending on which FFL you choose.
But before taking up any of the approval-related formalities like filling forms or fingerprinting, you need to choose a suppressor for your firearm, and then only the approval part begins.
Select suppressor and purchase a tax stamp
The first step toward your suppressor purchase is to select which suppressor you need. If you are already into firearms and suppressors, it should not take you long to select the best suppressor for your firearm. However, if you are new to suppressors or a first-time owner, selecting the right suppressor for your firearm may take some time in researching all available options. There is hundreds of suppressor available in the market with several brands such as SilencerCo, Dead Air, HUXWRX OSS, etc.
The right suppressor will depend on the type of your firearm and the caliber it is chambered in. Then you will need to evaluate suppressor-specific features. For example, some individuals may prefer their silencers to be small and lightweight, while others may be more inclined towards sound suppression ability and accuracy. There is no suppressor that will get you an “all-in-one” deal, but there are definitely products that will appeal to you with a balanced approach in offering different features.
If you are purchasing a suppressor for the first time, some research over the internet will be of great help before you finally get in touch with your FFL. Even if you haven’t zeroed in on anything yet, your firearm dealer will definitely help you select the best suppressor for your firearm.
Once you are done finalizing the suppressor for your firearms, your FFL will ask you to purchase a $200 tax stamp. It is mandatory to purchase a tax stamp and there is no getting around it. This is the tax stamp that will be approved and returned to you, which means that your suppressor has been approved.
Can you buy multiple suppressors with one tax stamp?
You will need a separate tax stamp for each NFA item you purchase. If you want to purchase multiple suppressors, you will need to pay for $200 tax stamp for each suppressor. This rule is not limited to suppressors but extends to all NFA items. For each NFA item, you will need a separate tax stamp.
How do you want to file for your suppressor?
There are a couple of options depending on who will be using your suppressor. If it is just you who will be using the suppressor, you can file as an individual. If you want your suppressor to be shared among several individuals (such as your family members), you should file as an NFA Gun Trust or a Corporation. These details will be mentioned in your ATF eForm 4 while Filing.
What is an eForm 4?
This is the ATF eForm that you need to fill and submit in order to have your suppressor approved. ATF eForm 4 or the“Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm” is filed by a qualified federal firearms licensee to transfer to an individual or a legal entity (such as NFA gun trusts, corporations, etc.). Your FFLs will assist you in filling out the form or fill them out on your behalf as they understand the process and it is a day-to-day task for them, so you don’t have to worry about the complexity of excessive information required by the eForm 4.
What is a Form 4 trust?
A Form 4 trust is a legal entity, in which you can enlist your NFA items as well as the individuals as “responsible persons”, among which these NFA items such as suppressors, SBR, etc. can be shared. How the NFA gun trusts work and what are the advantages or disadvantages of NFA gun trust, we have covered in great detail in our ATF/NFA Gun Trust article.
FFLs such as Silencer Shop allow you to choose a network dealer that will facilitate the submission of the eForm application. Your FFL may facilitate an electronic document for you to sign digitally if you file as a trust. If you file as an individual, you will not get the digital signature facility and will have to sign in person. You will need to ensure all information is correct before digitally signing the electronic document.
How much does a Form 4 cost?
ATF Form 4 does not directly involve any cost, however, you need to purchase a tax stamp and have it approved. In the case of silencers (suppressors), SBRs (Short Barrel Rifles), and Shotguns, a $200 tax stamp is required, however, in the case of Any Other Weapons (AOWs) a $5 tax stamp is required.
What is the difference between ATF form 1 and 4?
ATF Form 4 is an “Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm”, i.e. it is used for requesting approval for transferring an NFA item to an individual. It is filed by a qualified federal firearms licensee to transfer to an individual or other entity (non-licensee). On the other hand, ATF Form 1 is applicable for an individual or a legal entity to be able to make and register their own firearm or to convert it again into a short barrel rifle or short barrel shotgun.
Have your fingerprints been captured?
At this point, your FFL should also ask you to capture your fingerprints. Some FFLs rely on FD-258 card-based fingerprint capture, in which your fingerprint impressions are captured on a card with your ink-stained fingers. However, you should opt for digital NFA fingerprinting as a digital fingerprint scan will be your best shot if you want to take the fastest way to get a suppressor. Digital fingerprint capture works perfectly with the eForm submission process in which a digital fingerprint file is included with your application and submitted electronically.
Without an electronic submission of your fingerprints, you’ll be mailing fingerprint cards and your expected 90 Day processing starts when the fingerprints are received by the ATF. In the case of electronic fingerprint capture, it will happen immediately.
Your FFL may save your fingerprint information for any future ATF-related transactions so that you do not have to go through the process all over again. However, you will need to update the photo in your profile once per year. Your FFL may have an online system or a mobile app so that you can update the photo without physically visiting the FFL. If an online system or mobile app is not available, your FFL may allow you to click a photograph and send it via email to update your profile.
Can you eFile ATF Form 4 online?
Yes, ATF eForm 4 is available to eFile using ATF’s new eForm system. ATF has recently introduced this ability (in December 2021) and before that, only paper-based filing of Form 4 was available. However, with eForms, accurate submissions are very important. ATF has made clear there will be very little opportunity to fix errors after the eForm 4 is submitted. That means even minor problems with submissions could force you to wait 90 days for your processing just to find out that you have an error and must revise your application and then wait another 90 days.
Does silencer shop eFile Form 4 for me?
Yes. Silencer shop can eFile Form 4 for your suppressor as well as other NFA items, even if they are not listed on their website. Since the launch of ATF eForm 4 on December 23, 2021, the silencer shop has been facilitating the submission of ATF eForm 4 since January 3, 2022. And all powered by silencer shop dealers have been able to submit the eForm 4 since the middle of January 2022.
Certify and submit your eForm 4
Your FFL will help you thorough ATF eForm 4 i.e. “Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm” to transfer the suppressor on your or your legal entity’s name. This form is filed by a qualified federal firearms licensee to transfer to an individual or other entity (non-licensee).
You may certify remotely with your dealer if you have registered as a trust or corporation. If you registered as an individual you must certify in person at your dealer’s place of business. Once you are done with all the ATF eForm 4 related formalities such as paying for the tax stamp and submitting your ATF eForm 4 along with your fingerprint, all you need to do is wait.
How long does it take for form 4 to be approved in 2022?
ATF Form 4 wait times can vary dramatically from case to case and the details of how ATFprocess the application remain opaque. After the introduction of the new ATF eForm system, the Form 4 wait time should come down to 90 days as per the agency. This attractive timeline, however, is yet to see the light of day. When ATF is done reviewing your application, it mails your approved tax stamp to your dealer.
How do you know when Form 4 is approved?
Once your eForm 4 is approved, expect your dealer to call you and you can pick up your silencer. Before you can take your silencer home, there is a final piece of formality – ATF Form 4473 or Firearm Transaction Record. As the name suggests, this form is filled out to record the transfer of the suppressor from the dealer to you.
Do I have to carry my tax stamp with my suppressor?
Technically, you need to carry and produce your tax stamp whenever there is a need to prove that you are a legal owner of your NFA item. However, what people actually do is, keep the original tax stamp somewhere safe (to avoid any incident of loss and the consequences that follow), and carry a photocopy or a digital photograph of it in their phone. While the original tax should be produced whenever the need arises, a digital photograph should be enough to prove your legal ownership in most cases.
Having your ATF eForm 4 tax stamp approved successfully in the fastest possible way is all about doing the right things and choosing the right options to do them. Choosing to eFiling ATF Form 4 instead of submitting a paper form, submitting digital fingerprints instead of submitting them on a fingerprint card, and providing accurate data is your best shot when it comes to getting your suppressor as soon as possible.